Message of the Week

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The second reading from Ephesians is rather long and with only six sentences, it is not easy to follow. To put it simply, he is giving a description of the many blessings God has given us. First is Redemption, meaning that Christ saved us from punishment for our sins by forgiving them instead. Second is the plan of God for saving everyone, by making Christ ruler of the universe. We have to accept these gifts by letting go of the temptations around us and holding on to the love we have received from God. We then share that love with others, so that they know God loves them, too. As our experience of God’s love grows, we begin to understand the mystery of how God lives in all people.

Paul also reminds us that we are chosen and destined to help God bring his plan, his Kingdom, to completion. When we teach children how to love and share, when we are honest with customers or suppliers, when we are not ashamed to show our faith in Jesus, when we are respectful of the poor, elderly, or disabled, we are slowly building the Kingdom of God.

Paul mentions three times in this reading about “the praise of God’s glory.” (Eph 1:14) When we are able to help or forgive, or just be a good example to others, we want them to know that God is in all the good we do. Instead of taking credit for the results, we give God the glory. No, you don’t have to take off your glasses and put on a red cape before helping others. Just mention that God does the real work, we just try not to get in his way.

Tom Schmidt, Diocesan Publications


Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is Paul serious?  Can you imagine being content with “weaknesses, insults, hardships, and persecutions?”  (2Cor 12:10)  Paul could have been proud of all that God revealed to him, and of all that he accomplished in spreading the gospel.  But instead, he boasts about his weaknesses.  He knows that all the good work he has done have been accomplished by Christ.  So, he accepted suffering, rejection, setbacks and persecution because they helped him see how much Christ was doing through him.

We can learn a lot from St. Paul.  Remember how Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself.  Paul loved himself in the good sense of accepting his faults and weaknesses.  He was always aware that he once persecuted Christians.  But that fault enabled him to experience God’s forgiveness.

St. Paul says that when he is weak, then he is strong.  He knows that God will still work through him, showing God’s power to heal the sick and draw converts to Christ, in spite of Paul’s weaknesses.  Paul did what he could to encourage others to follow Jesus, but he knew the results of his preaching and healing were up to God.   When you think that you would fail at spreading the faith, remember Paul and give your weaknesses to God.  Then see what he can do!

Tom Schmidt, Diocesan Publications

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

You Turned My Mourning into Dancing

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Does the Christian duty to help the poor seem to be overwhelming?  We hear more and more about the homeless and jobless.  Even in St. Paul’s time there was more than enough poverty to go around.  He was trying to build interest (in our second reading) in a project to help the Christians in Jerusalem.  We see two of his reasons here.

First, he tells what fine Christians they are, and hopes that they will be just as good in giving to his collection.  Paul is challenging them to continue to show their love for God in their support for fellow Christians.  The second reason was to show a good example:  By helping the church in Jerusalem, they would show that Christians were united in faith and love for each other.

The main example he uses is Jesus, who made himself poor (i.e., human) so that we could be rich in grace and forgiveness.  Paul challenges them, and us, to follow that example in giving from our wealth so that others can survive.  Note that he doesn’t expect them to live in poverty, just to share what they have out of love for Christ.

Today, we can ask ourselves, “Do I give to the poor because I feel guilty about all that I have?  Or do I want to show my love for Jesus when I see him in the poor?”  By looking at why we give to charities, we may find ourselves being even more generous than we expected.

Tom Schmidt, Diocesan Publications

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Even the Wind and the Sea Obey Him

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

It is so easy to complain when things don’t go our way.  We don’t understand why certain situations have to be so hard or why family members have to suffer.  If anyone ever had anything to complain about it was certainly Job, but in today’s first reading God called him out on it rather strongly.

God himself teaches us with this passage just how much he dislikes complaining.  Our Psalm proclaims: “Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting.”  And that sums it up right there.  Period.  We have the love of God, what more do we need?  Thanks be to God!

Our second reading only confirms this thought.  “The love of Christ impels us…whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.”  Everything on this earth will pass away.  Yet we should not fear, because we are a new creation in Christ and his love impels us forward.

In today’s Gospel, the disciples fell into fear, and Jesus reminded them of his great power and love by calming the storm with just three words: “Quiet! Be Still!”  When we call on him in faith, he can calm our storms as well.  No matter how strong the winds or how tall the waves, Jesus can help us.

Whenever life’s many trials and tribulations get you down, remember that complaining won’t get you anywhere.   Instead, lift your heart and mind to our all-powerful God and give thanks to him, whose love is everlasting.

Tami Urcia, Diocesan Publications

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/062324.cfm

The Kingdom of God is Like a Mustard Seed….

The Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

We hear about the Kingdom of God in many of Jesus’ parables. In today’s passage, he uses parables to describe how the kingdom will spread. What is interesting is that they are not so much about our actions as they are about how God builds his kingdom.

Let’s start with the second parable: Jesus exaggerates a little, with the mustard seed being the smallest seed and the bush being the largest plant. Like the birds on the branches, Jesus implies that the growing kingdom will attract outsiders to be members. His point is that the kingdom may look small at first, but it will keep growing. We need not be discouraged when it seems the kingdom is not growing: We might be limiting it to people who think and act just like ourselves. We might see attendance at church in our parish declining. So Jesus is reminding us to think of the bigger picture.

In the first parable about the man who scattered seeds, Jesus says that those seeds produce a harvest, even though the farmer doesn’t know how or why those seeds can grow. We too can be doing things that help the Kingdom to grow, without knowing how we are helping. But God is making the kingdom grow in his own way and in his own time. Like the farmer, we can help it grow by loving each other, teaching our children about Jesus, caring for the poor and the sick.

But we can also hinder the kingdom by being stingy with our love, or hurting people with our anger. So let us ask God to trust him as we do our part to help the kingdom to grow.

Tom Schmidt, Diocesan Publications

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

The Tenth Sunday Ordinary Time

If you spend any amount of time around young children, you will quickly realize that they like to pass the blame.  What are they trying to accomplish with this behavior?  They are trying to get out of trouble, but where do they learn this behavior?
The short answer is from our first parents, the founders of Original Sin.  In today’s first reading, we see Adam passing the blame to Eve, who then passes the blame to the serpent.  While neither of them were untruthful, they were definitely trying to avoid punishment.
Although we might be tempted to let this first reading get us down, the second reading reminds us of God’s promise of redemption: “the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also…Therefore, we are not discouraged…”
That is why we can exclaim with joy, “Oh happy fault, Oh necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!”  Because of Adam’s sin, Jesus came down from heaven to save us.  But not only did he save us, he made us members of his own family: “For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
Knowing we are members of God’s family should motivate us to end the cycle of blaming. It should encourage us to humbly accept our faults, confess our sins and seek to be blameless in God’s sight. It should drive us to instead lift others up by sharing the good news of God’s unconditional love. Let’s take one small step toward making that happen today.

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

The Feast Day of Our Patron Saint Brigid

Ordinary Time

COMMUNION REFLECTION FOR ST. BRIGID’S DAY

From the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin.

Legend holds that Brigid made her first cross from rushes she picked from the floor as she visited a pagan chieftain who was dying.  While sitting by his bed she began to weave the rushes into the shape of a cross and tell the stories of her Christian faith.  The cross became a symbol of peace and protection, protection of animals and protection from fire and disease, and a blessing for home and hearth. Crosses were exchanged too in times of clan feuds as a sign of reconciliation.  From that time Irish people have never ceased to weave these crosses.  These rushes represent our hopes, our dreams, our gifts, and our efforts in working towards a more caring society.

She gathered the dreams to weave something new.  She gathers our rushes of sorrow and gladness, of happiness and pain, tears and laughter, kindness and caring, of voluntary groups and organizations, of families, relations and friends, of schools and hospitals, of work and sport and recreation, and all the little words and deeds offered in hope, in faith, and in love.  She weaved them all with loving hands into a new form, a richer and more beautiful creation.  God too weaves patiently and persistently with the rushes of our lives. He invites us to keep offering him the shreds of our suffering and the stuff of our dreams and to take our place beside him to weave the shape of new creation.

 

February 1st is the Feast Day of Saint Brigid of Kildare, Ireland.  (452 – 525)  We celebrate this special day within our Sunday Mass liturgies this year.   The prayers, scriptures, and hymns will be those of the Feast rather than the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Special Reading for this Feast Day:

First Reading: Sirach 2:7-11
A reading from the book of Sirach.
You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy; turn not away lest you fall.
You who fear the Lord, trust in him, and your reward will not be lost.
You who fear the Lord, hope for good things, for lasting joy and mercy.
You who fear the Lord, love him and your hearts will be enlightened.
Study the generations long past and understand: has anyone hoped in the Lord and been disappointed?
Has anyone persevered in his commandments and been forsaken? Has anyone called upon him and been rebuffed?
Compassionate and merciful is the Lord: he forgives sins, he saves in time of trouble and he is a protector to all who seek him in truth.

Second Reading: Ephesians 3:14-19
A reading from the Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians.
Brothers and sisters:
I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
The word of the Lord.

GOSPEL : Matthew 22:34-40
+ A reading from the Gospel according to Matthew.
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law, tested him by asking,
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”
+ The Gospel of the Lord.

 

 

 

Come After Me and I Will Make You Fishers of Men

The Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

Since we are still at the beginning of the season of Ordinary Time, it’s important to understand this transition from the Old Testament prophets, of which John was the last, to the New Testament preaching of our Lord.

As Jesus begins His preaching, His words are challenging but also very hopeful.  By saying that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” Jesus stirs interest and holy curiosity among His first listeners.  His call to repentance was softened by His new proclamation about the Kingdom.

Oftentimes, when we see someone living in serious sin, we want to judge and condemn.  But usually what they need the most is hope— hope that there is something much greater that comes from repentance, the HOPE of the Kingdom of God.  True fulfillment is only found in the Gospel, the message of Truth that Jesus shared during His three years of public ministry.

How do you try to satiate this desire in the fulfillment of life?

Do you allow the evil one to trick you into thinking that fleshly desires, pride or wealth are the answer?

 

Readings:  Third Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

We Have Found the Messiah

The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

God calls each of us but does not force us into service.

We must…

– Ask God to speak to us

– Remember to listen

– Tell him that we desire to do his will

 God desires one thing: a humble heart willing to serve.

The Father has made us temples of his Holy Spirit and vessels to carry his message forward.

Just as Jesus invited Andrew to come and stay with him,  he also beckons us to an intimate friendship with him.

As Andrew evangelized his brother Peter after his experience with Jesus, we too should bring Jesus to our families, friends, and neighbors by our own example.

 

Readings: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Ordinary Time

Amen, Amen, I say to you. What You Did Not Do For One of These Least Ones, You Did Not Do For Me.

The Lord rules the earth yet  He comes to us through the least among us. He shows us that His kingdom is a reality; not just an idea.

We are offered entrance to the realm through our care of those in need: the hungry, the sick, the naked, the impoverished, the imprisoned, and the unborn.

Such care and outreach are work toward the gift of paradise. Is your focus aligned with the Lord’s?

Can you recognize His brothers among you?

 

Readings:  The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe | USCCB

 

Well Done My Good and Faithful Servant

The Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

I wonder what that third servant in the Gospel was doing all that time after he buried the talent he was given. Probably nothing. What strikes me is that the word for money in this reading is “talent,” which in our language is an ability or skill. Maybe this parable can remind us to use our abilities and not let them go to waste. A person might be strong and fast, but if she exercises and practices, she could be a great athlete. The same with spiritual gifts. Just having one doesn’t make you a saint. So how do you know what gifts you have?

First, ask God in your prayers to show you what gifts you have been given. Read the scriptures, especially the Acts of the Apostles or the Letters of Paul (e.g., 1 Corinthians 12:1–11). Listen humbly to friends or loved ones who can tell you what strengths they see in you.

Second, look for ways to use your gifts. Check the parish bulletin or website or your diocesan newspaper for activities and organizations that you could take part in. Hospitals, schools, shelters, and nursing homes frequently offer opportunities for volunteers. Or you may see a need for some service that you can get started in the parish or community.

Just remember that you are called to service by your baptism and confirmation. Don’t bury that calling by procrastinating or being afraid to try. Remember the “useless servant” with the one talent who was fearful and lazy (Matthew 25:25–26). At least he can remind us to use it or lose it.

Tom Schmidt, Diocesan Publications

Readings: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/111923.cfm

Therefore, Stay Awake, For You Know Neither the Day Nor the Hour. 

The Thirty-Second Sunday Ordinary Time

Procrastination can be bad in all parts of our lives.

Paying attention to everything except God can be particularly dangerous.

Every day is a chance to start anew and to prepare for our encounter with God.

He has invited us to the feast but we need to respond to Him.

Do you have a pen and paper, or can you just talk to Him?

 

Readings:  https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/111223.cfm

 

Whoever Exalts Himself Will Be Humbled, but Whoever Humbles Himself Will Be Exalted

The Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time Ordinary Time

Jesus gives a lesson in humility in this week’s Gospel.

At the heart of Jesus’ criticism of the scribes and Pharisees was their tendency to exalt themselves in the eyes of others.

Many would do things in public to get recognition, but Jesus said instead to be humble servants.

The greatest among them would be those who serve the rest.

That was the example Jesus himself left for us, so we as his followers must also become humble servants.

Humility begins by seeing yourself in the light of truth.

How does God see you?

Readings: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/110523.cfm

I Love You Lord, My Strength

The Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

What the first reading calls aliens are immigrants or newcomers.  They lived among the Hebrews, but were not Jews themselves.  The Lord reminds the people that they were once aliens themselves.

They should not make the same mistake the Egyptians did when they mistreated the Israelites.  God uses the same logic in commanding them to take care of widows and orphans.  Treat them like family, or else your own wives and children will be in the same situation.

The reason for such compassion should be deeper than just fear of punishment.  Jesus said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).  He called this the second commandment.  The first is to love God wholly and completely, heart, mind, and soul. If the second commandment is the Golden Rule, the first might be called the Diamond Rule.  If you think about it, in order to keep the first commandment, you have to be keeping the second as well.

Jesus said that whatever you do for the poor, the homeless, the sick, or prisoners, you do for him (Matthew 25:31–46). We can’t really say we love God if we don’t love the people God created.

So that gives us two reasons to love our neighbor.  First, because God lives in other people, so loving God means loving God wherever God is found.  Second, God loves them, so if we are to be holy, we must be like God.

What does that mean? Remember the saying that “charity begins at home”?  It doesn’t end there.  If we truly love God, we will extend our charity to those outside our homes. People are probably still rebuilding after earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, and other disasters, and every city has some kind of homeless shelters.

You say you love God? Let’s see you love your neighbor.

Tom Schmidt, Diocesan Publications

 

Readings:  Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Render to Ceasar What is Ceasar’s and to God what belongs to God.

The Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

As Christians, we may feel tensions between Church and State.

We may have to make difficult choices.

Turning to God, and seeking His will can help us.

His laws are written on our hearts.

The Holy Spirit is His voice within us.

Can we find the key to settling our inner unrest?

 

Readings: Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

 

Many Are Invited But a Few Are Chosen

The Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

We are invited to be in God’s kingdom. The invitation requires a response.  Rejection has consequences.

Even when we come into our faith by tradition or family inheritance we are expected to adhere to the guidance of the faith!

Jesus modeled this behavior for us repeatedly during His ministry when He accepted the company of all – He ate with Pharisees and also kept company with those on the margins of society.  He continued to spread the Good News of the Father’s kingdom to everyone.

We are not here to judge others but to welcome them as God welcomes us. God invites us to be a part of His kingdom.

The way that we respond to others in our daily lives marks the way we respond to God’s invitation.

How did we come into our faith and how prepared are we for full participation?

 

Readings: Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

The Stone that the Builders Have Rejected has Become the Cornertone.

The Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus returns to the Old Testament symbol of the vineyard to teach about Israel, the Church, and the kingdom of God.

This Gospel reminds us of the importance of listening to God’s word.

God speaks to us in many ways—through Scripture, through our Church tradition, in our Church’s teaching, and through modern-day prophets.

We are each a vine in the Lord’s vineyard, grafted onto the true vine of Christ, called to bear fruits of the righteousness in Him and to be the “first fruits” of a new creation.

We need to take care that we don’t let ourselves be overgrown with the thorns and briars of worldly anxiety.

We need to fill our hearts and minds with noble intentions and virtuous deeds, rejoicing always that the Lord is near.

Are we attentive and receptive to God’s word to us through these messengers?

 

Readings: Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

 

 

Go Out and Work in the Vineyard Today

The Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Vineyard is our life lived in fidelity to the will of God.

It is also attention to our specific mission in life,  be it family, work, or worship.

Some say yes, but really don’t live it according to what they are supposed to do.

Yet others, after initial resistance come around to doing as they should.

Did you go and work in the vineyard today?

 

Readings: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/100123.cfm

 

 

 

Lord, If My Brother Sins Against Me, How Often Must I Forgive?

The Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Why should we forgive those who hurt us?  The gospel this Sunday gives three reasons: First because Jesus commands it.  Second, forgiveness is part of loving one another.  And third, because we want to be forgiven for our sins.

Here Jesus commands us to forgive unceasingly, without limit.  Now that could be a challenge for even the most patient person.  Does it mean we have to let someone hurt us over and over?  No, it is possible to forgive someone and also prevent them from hurting us, if we do it with love (the second reason.)  For instance, we might forgive an alcoholic family member but still insist that they get help.  Since forgiveness is part of love, it is also part of tough love.

That leads to the third reason: We forgive because we have been forgiven.  Jesus has already died for our sins.  If we truly believe that Jesus is risen and that we will rise to eternal life with him in spite of our sins, how can we refuse to forgive someone who hurts us?

Tom Schmidt, Diocesan Publications

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Where Two or Three Are Gathered In My Name, There I Am in the Midst Of Them

The Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

Prayer is not a meaningless exercise.

Jesus promises His presence among us and His awareness of our prayers.

He asks us to be a community of believers who bring our decisions about life to Him.

The authority of the community, the church,  is significant.

Are we connected to that community?

Are our prayers joined with others and offered up in expectant faith?

 

Readings:  Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me

The Twenty- First Sunday in Ordinary Time

If we preach resurrection without the cross, we are acting like Peter in the Gospel.

Peter had just proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah, but he failed to understand that Jesus’ mission was not to bring wealth and glory to Israel.  Like Satan’s temptations in the desert, he wanted Jesus to take the easy way to glory.

Instead, Jesus challenges us to deny ourselves.  As long as we center our lives on our own pleasure and comfort, we are rejecting the cross.  To deny oneself means to choose God’s will over our own.  It means to be willing to suffer for being honest.  It means giving God the first place in our lives.  It means we get more joy from serving others than from serving ourselves.

That is one reason I like the image of God as Father.  Parents will lose much of their freedom—and much sleep—when they bring a child into the world.  But they find a new joy in the eyes of that child.  We are all called to lose our selfish lives and find the joy of living for Jesus.

Tom Schmidt  – Diocesan Publication

Readings: Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Upon this Rock I Will Build my Church

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus gave Simon a name based on the word for “rock.” Peter had just acknowledged Jesus to be the Son of God and the Messiah (Christ). Jesus used that as an opportunity to teach us about the importance of faith as the foundation of the church.

There were many variations on what people thought the Messiah would be. Some expected a political leader who would unite the Jews and maybe even overthrow their Roman masters.  Others thought he would be a wonder-worker, a super-hero, who would use his power to make Israel a great and free nation.  Some thought the messiah would provide food and riches in abundance.

In faith, we learn that Jesus has fulfilled all messianic hopes.  He unites not just the Jews, but all people who believe in him. He sets us free from sin and death. He feeds our spiritual hunger with his own Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

By commending Peter’s faith, he shows us that faith is the foundation (rock) of the church. For the church is a family of people who believe all that Jesus taught because we believe in the person of Jesus. That is, we don’t just believe that Jesus was real. We affirm that he is alive and important to our lives. We have experienced him in his words, in the sacraments, and in each other. May our faith always be solid as a rock.

Tom Schmidt

Diocesean Publications

Readings:  Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Great is Your Faith, Let it Be Done Unto You as You Wish

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Much of Jesus’ ministry was the healing of bodies and souls.

He dealt with all He encountered with compassion and mercy.

Even those estranged from Him in some way were included.

The suffering of the entire world throughout history lay at His feet.

His purpose is always to heal, to free, and to save. Are not our needs also before Him?

Ask Him to heal us and to free us.

 

Reading: Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

 

Do Not Be Afraid

The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Peter had a direct command from Jesus to walk on the water. Yet, Peter doubted.

How many times do we also doubt as we go about our God-given mission in life?

Jesus also strengthens us.
“Take courage it is I; do not be afraid”

Nothing is impossible with God. Our trust in Him is our strength.

Jesus calls us to act in faith.

How is your walk on the water?

Readings: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/081323.cfm

This is My Beloved Son with Whom I Am Well Pleased

The Transfiguration of the Lord

The disciples’ lives were never the same because they had been shown without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was the true God.

As His disciples today, the Church helps us unravel this divine appointment by explaining God’s attributes.  God is Infinite: He is not confined by time or space.  God is Unity: He is the one, true God and there is no other.  God is Simple: He is not composed of any physical or metaphysical parts; He simply is.  God is Divine: He is the creator and sustainer of all beings.  God is Eternal: He always was, always is, and always will be.  God is Omnipresent: He is not confined by any temporal limitations; He is everywhere.  God is Immutable: He is incapable of any type of change; Since he is perfection itself, He cannot change. God possesses Divine Knowledge, Intellect, and Will: He knows all things, understands all things, and orchestrates all things according to his divine plan.

After being reminded of Who and What God is, how can we do anything but respond in awe and wonder?  As our second reading admonishes:  We possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable.  You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”  Let us listen to that message today, allow ourselves to be moved by it, and respond in faith to our great and loving God.

Diocesan Publications

Readings: Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord | USCCB

 

The Kingdom of Heaven…

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Calls us to an awareness of the reign of God in all things.

It is more important to our lives than anything else.  It is like a pearl of great worth.

We are encouraged to pursue what it requires of us no matter what.

God’s reign will bring justice when all things come together in the kingdom.

What are we searching for in our lives?

Is seeking the kingdom foremost in our plans?

 

Readings: Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

 

His Enemy Came and Sowed WEEDS All Through the WHEAT.

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel serves as a humbling reminder that God is generous and merciful. He desires us to be united with Him in His Heavenly Kingdom whether we come to His vineyard at 5 years old or 95.  It is not an effort of ours or merit we can earn that grants us God’s love. Rather, He loves without condition and makes His love equally available to all.

When we come to God’s vineyard, He envelops us in His love, which we hear about in today’s Responsorial Psalm.  Every time I hear Psalm 23, I think of myself in preschool.  I don’t have many memories of preschool; in fact, I don’t even remember my teacher’s name or the names of any of my classmates.  What I do remember, however, is being taught Psalm 23.  “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.”  For a long time, I wondered why that Psalm and why at such a young age?  Looking back now, I think I understand.  Our teacher wanted us all to be confident of God’s everlasting love for us.  If we know that love at a young age we can grow up knowing Him and loving Him, and even bring more laborers to His beautiful vineyard.

May we always remember the love of God and may we continue working as laborers in his vineyard.

 

Readings: Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Diocesan

Some Seed Fell on Rich Soil and Produced Fruit

Fifteenth Sunday Ordinary Time

Jesus threw out parables like a farmer sowing seeds.  Some of them fell on the ears of those who would be disciples.  But most fell on the ears of people not ready to understand.  The path, the rocky ground, and the thorns are all metaphors for how his teachings were received. So how do we receive his word?

Do we hear it without understanding, letting it go in one ear and out the other?  Do we hear it joyfully, but then forget it when troubles or difficulties come along?  Do we listen to the word but ignore it in the face of later temptation?

If we want the word to grow strong in us, we can take steps to help ourselves understand it.  We can come to church early and spend a few minutes with the readings before Mass.  After Mass, we can talk about the readings or the homily with our family over breakfast.  We can pick out one practical point to practice that week.

God’s word can be likened to a ball game.  We can sit back and watch, not really involved or caring who wins.  Or we can jump in and participate and make the game ours.  Let us ask God how we can take the word and run with it.

Tom Schmidt. Diocesan

Readings: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/071623.cfm

Come to Me all Who Labor and are Heavy Laden, and I Will Give you Rest

Ordinary Time

I’d like you to take a moment and trace the past week of your life. Other than sleeping, did you take any intentional rest?  We just finished the Independence Day holiday here in the United States.  If you live in the US, did you squeeze in every last bit of work in the office before closing your computer for the holiday?  Did you actually sign off from work for the holiday?  Or did you try to multitask, only to find yourself zigging and zagging between sporting events, and reading work emails on your phone during backyard barbecues, without ever actually resting?

If you’ve ever felt more tired after a holiday than before, chances are that today, you feel like a burnt-out sparkler. I have a consolation for you: today’s Gospel reading is especially for you because in it Jesus tells us to rest.

If we rest in Scripture today, we are privileged to hear a sacred conversation.  We hear Jesus resting in prayer with the Father. “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,” Jesus says.  The prayer in verses 25-27 is one of only three places in which Matthew records Jesus’ prayers with God the Father.  The second instance is in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt 26:39, 42), and the third is Jesus’s last words on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46).

After concluding his prayer today, Jesus shares the intimacy of the relationship between Son and Father, with those around him. “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him” (Mt 11:27).

After this statement comes an invitation to rest. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Commentators note that the rest that Jesus gives is the peace which surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7). It is also the invitation to discipleship, for we know that following Jesus brings “rest for your souls” (11:29).  Through resting in Jesus, Jesus reveals the Father to us for Jesus opens up the possibility of eternal union with God in heaven.

The first step toward unity with God today is simple: just rest. Spend time with this Gospel passage.  Resist the urge to check your phone and just rest.  Accomplish in prayer what Jesus asks of you today:  “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden” . . . “Take my yoke upon you” . . . “learn from me.” (11:28-29)

 

Readings: Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

Provided by Diocesan.  Reflection Author, Elizabeth Tomlin.    General Counsel for the Archdiocese for the Military Services.  She blogs at JoyfulMomentum.org or @elizabethannetomlin. 

Whoever Loses His Life for My Sake Will Find It.

Thirteenth Sunday Ordinary Time

Jesus asks His disciples to have total dedication to following Him.  As an example, He tells us that to be worthy we must love Him more than we love our parents or children.  If we see someone in our family stray from the faith, we try to bring them back by our prayers, example, and encouragement.  Jesus then gives examples of three kinds of disciples.

First are the prophets. These are people who have lived the faith and are able to teach others the wisdom they have learned.

Second, are the righteous, those whose quiet lives teach by example.  Many good parents practice this type of discipleship.  Children may not listen to their parents’ advice, but still grow up with memories of how they lived.

Finally, there are the “little ones.”  These, like children, follow Jesus with great joy and love. They may be elderly or disabled.  When we respect and cherish them, we are able to see Jesus in them.  And anytime we can experience Jesus through another person is a wonderful reward for a disciple.

Tom Schmidt, Diocesan Publications

Readings: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/070223.cfm